Economic Development As An Evolutionary Process

Professor Richard R. Nelson, Columbia University

The fourth Charles Cooper memorial lecture explores why development should be seen as an evolutionary process. Professor Nelson sets out why modern evolutionary economic theory provides a better framework for understanding development than neoclassical theory, arguing that an adequate conceptual framework needs to recognize that effective economic development is driven by innovation and creative destruction. It also is important to recognize the wide range of institutions involved in economic activity (much more than just firms, households, and markets), and that the varied roles of government cannot be understood simply as responses to ‘market failures’. This is all the more relevant to developing countries, where economic activity proceeds in an ever changing world environment.

About the speaker
Richard Nelson heads up the Science, Technology, and Global Development program at the Columbia Earth Institute, and is doctor honoris causa at Maastricht University. He taught for many years at Yale University and Columbia, and also has served as research economist and analyst at the Rand Corporation, and at the President’s Council of Economic Advisors. Much of his research has focused on understanding technological change: how economic institutions and public policies influence the evolution of technology, and how technological change in turn induces institutional and economic change more broadly. Along with Sidney Winter, Richard has pioneered in trying to develop a way of economic theorizing that recognizes explicitly that the economy is almost always undergoing change, most of it unpredictable, and that theories that assume that economic agents understand well the context in which they are operating, and that the system is in equilibrium, are inadequate for analysis of many important economic questions. His book with Winter, An Evolutionary Theory of Economic Change, is widely recognized as a landmark in this field. Attendance is free, but registration required.

Venue: Maastricht University, Aula, Minderbroedersberg 4-6, Maastricht

Date: 27 January 2011

Time: 16:30 - 18:00  CET